Nerve guidance channels as drug delivery vehicles
Nerve guidance channels (NGCs) have been shown to facilitate regeneration after transection injury to the peripheral nerve or spinal cord. Various therapeutic molecules, including neurotrophic factors, have improved regeneration and functional recovery after injury when combined with NGCs; however, their impact has not been maximized partly due to the lack of an appropriate drug delivery system. To address this limitation, nerve growth factor (NGF) was incorporated into NGCs of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-co-methyl methacrylate), P(HEMA-co-MMA). The NGCs were synthesized by a liquid–liquid centrifugal casting process and three different methods of protein incorporation were compared in terms of protein distribution and NGF release profile: (1) NGF was encapsulated (with BSA) in biodegradable poly(d,l-lactide-co-glycolide) 85/15 microspheres, which were combined with a PHEMA polymerization formulation and coated on the inside of pre-formed NGCs by a second liquid–liquid centrifugal casting technique; (2) pre-formed NGCs were imbibed with a solution of NGF/BSA and (3) NGF/BSA alone was combined with a PHEMA formulation and coated on the inside of pre-formed NGCs by a second liquid–liquid centrifugal casting technique. Using a fluorescently labelled model protein, the distribution of proteins in NGCs prepared with a coating of either protein-loaded microspheres or protein alone was found to be confined to the inner PHEMA layer. Sustained release of NGF was achieved from NGCs with either NGF-loaded microspheres or NGF alone incorporated into the inner layer, but not from channels imbibed with NGF. By day 28, NGCs with microspheres released a total of 220 pg NGF/cm of channel whereas those NGCs imbibed with NGF released 1040 pg/cm and those NGCs with NGF incorporated directly in a PHEMA layer released 8624 pg/cm. The release of NGF from NGCs with microspheres was limited by a slow-degrading microsphere formulation and by the maximum amount of microspheres that could be incorporated into the NGCs structure. Notwithstanding, the liquid–liquid centrifugal casting process is promising for localized and controlled release of multiple factors that are key to tissue regeneration.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 27, Issue 9, March 2006, Pages 2018–2027